Tuesday, July 29, 2014

State by State with the Carbon Rules: Vermont, New Hampshire, Washington

Double rainbow
Two states visible
State by State

In yesterday's blog post, I took a high-level look at the EPA's proposed carbon rules: The Carbon Regulations: Now What They Seem to Be. I concluded that the rules were political, backwards, unenforceable, and an open door for legal fees.

That was the overview.  Today, I will focus on three states of special interest to me: Vermont, New Hampshire, and Washington State.

Vermont and New Hampshire

In the op-ed I wrote for local papers, I compared Vermont and New Hampshire.

Vermont: Even after Vermont Yankee shuts down and Vermont begins importing more carbon-heavy power, Vermont will be a poster child for low-carbon energy. We won't be burning fossil fuels in-state.  We will have exported our compliance issues even as we import our electricity.

New Hampshire: New Hampshire is already a low-carbon state, getting only 10% of its electricity from coal. The EPA wants the state to cut back its utility carbon footprint by 46%.  New Hampshire hopes that its participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will meet the new rules.

Guy Page of Vermont Energy Partnership wrote about Vermont's future with the new EPA regulations.  His op-ed also appeared in many local papers.  As he wrote: Despite EPA "pass," Vermont faces carbon reduction challenges. We had different terms for the same phenomenon. What  I call "exporting
Guy Page
an ancestor
compliance issues, " Page describes as "being at the mercy of other state's plans and costs."  

Page knows the specifics about Vermont's electricity contracts and sources. His well-researched white paper on Vermont utility contracts should be required reading for anyone interested in this region's electricity: Vermont Electricity at a Glance: Vermont utilities’ electricity generation sources, contracts  and rates March 26, 2013

Washington State

At Forbes, James Conca writes about Washington state, which has an incredibly low-carbon fuel mix (mostly hydro and nuclear).  As typical for these backwards EPA rules, Washington must cut its carbon emissions by over 70% (yes, you read that right.)  Since Washington coal plants are due to retire, the state will be able to achieve the EPA goals. Conca's article focuses on Energy Northwest, a major utility in Washington.  He summarizes the situation very well: Nuclear-Renewable Mix Is Just What the EPA Ordered.

About the pictures

I usually source graphics from Wikipedia, but today I am using two of my own pictures.  The first shows a double rainbow over the Connecticut River on July 27. I took it from an upstairs bedroom window. The picture shows two states.  The pine trees in the foreground grow on our lawn in Vermont: the hills across the river belong to New Hampshire.  The double rainbow belongs to itself.

The second picture shows Guy Page standing in the State House in Montpelier.  Page is standing next to the official portrait of his great-grandfather, Vermont Governor Urban Woodbury.  Woodbury lost an arm in the Civil War: if you look closely at the portrait, you can see the empty sleeve.

About my op-ed

So far, my op-ed has appeared in Vermont DiggerTrue North ReportsValley News, The Commons of Brattleboro, and the St. Albans Messenger.  It was originally published in the Valley News. I plan to publish it on this blog in the near future. 

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